NYJL spoke with Josh Rabi about his new startup Serve.Us, Tel Aviv, Cho-Sen Island and more
NYJL: What is Serve.Us?
JR: Serve.Us is a mobile app that brings vetted staff to bars and restaurants to fill last-second shifts.
NYJL: What was the moment you realized there was a need in the marketplace for Serve.Us?
JR: I used to DJ in the East Village and my pay would be a percentage of the till. When a bartender or busser wouldn’t show, I noticed I was losing cash. This was around the same time Uber was starting and I thought, “This technology would work great in the restaurant industry.”
NYJL: As a founder, what have you found to be the biggest surprise as you work to fund and grow your idea/platform?
JR: What the word “adversity” really means. You have to live the dream, sleep the dream, feel the dream at every moment. Because if you stop believing, everyone else stops also.
NYJL: Do you think technology has had a mostly positive or negative impact on society?
JR: I guess it depends on how we define “technology.” But technology has helped us live longer and connect in new ways; anything overused usually has negative effects.
NYJL: What is your advice to people looking to launch their own business, specifically those looking for funding?
JR: Never give up—and choose something that speaks to you. You’re about to dedicate everything you’ve got to it.
NYJL: Why did you choose a team based in Tel Aviv to handle the development and maintenance of Serve.Us?
JR: It kind of happened organically. My father is Israeli, so I have been visiting for years. I met our CTO Tomer on a trip I had for my previous job while giving symposiums at WeWork on branding and strategy, and he was a perfect fit and all-around great guy. Plus having to visit Tel Aviv a few times a year is always a good reason.
NYJL: With the rise of the BDS movement and the current political climate, do you feel an anti-Israel sentiment has hurt your ability to thrive in the marketplace?
JR: I absolutely do not believe it has hurt me in the marketplace. However, I have experienced on a few different occasions where I would be talking with an advisor or an investor and I will mention that our development is done in Israel where oddly all communication stops thereafter.
NYJL: You have worked and lived in New York City, the Five Towns and Israel. Where is home for you?
JR: There’s a level of “home” in each place. The feeling I get when I touch down at Ben Gurion is hard to describe—how safe and welcome I feel. I’ve had a close relationship with New York City ever since I was a young kid helping out at my father’s warehouse in the garment district, and it never stops surprising me. And the Five Towns, that’s just where my parents live. Brooklyn is home.
NYJL: Which is a better food town, New York City or Tel Aviv?
JR: Hands down, Tel Aviv. It’s a natural fusion of so many different cultures brought into one. There’s a lot of soul in the food. The ingredients are just as fresh at the corner shawarma spot with 30 salads as they are at the fanciest restaurant in town—also did I mention that the corner shawarma spot has 30 salads? The people still love the craft, and the lack of high rent hasn’t gotten in the way, as it has here in New York.
NYJL: Favorite food?
JR: Obviously depends on the mood—but there’s nothing like a pargiot shawarma at Hashamen in Jerusalem, or my favorite part of the Five Towns: Cho-Sen Island—best Chinese on the planet.
NYJL: Lastly, considering we are a Jewish publication, have you thought about a Kosher version or feature for Serve.Us?
JR: Like mashgiachs on demand? Never thought of it—but it’s interesting.
For more information or to contact Josh Rabi visit Serve.Us or email Josh@Serve.Us.